Seven dollar nails. Beautiful? Useful?
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” as William Morris famously put it. Here are a couple of designs to test the principle.
As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, let’s consider the Evian fridge magnet on practical grounds. It senses when your fridge is out of the brand, and automatically puts in an order to your shop for some more. As a one-brand concept this seems like a bit of a faff – how long does it take to set up the equipment in the first place? Might looking in the fridge or indeed walking over to the tap not be a little easier? However, we have been hearing about smart fridges for a while, and this is the first branded reality that I have seen. If the technology could scan all your groceries for, say, Tesco or Ocado, it might be a bit more useful. If it then made this the basis of next week’s shopping list rather than taking the decision to go ahead and automatically purchase, then it might have a bit more relevance to our budget balancing and wasteful times.
Particularly unconcerned with balancing budget are these solid brass nails, which are proving popular at seven dollars each. They have achieved something quite remarkable – surely they are the first nails in history to be pretentious. The designers told Fast Company “All of a sudden it hit us: Oh my god, we’ve never seen anything but round nails. Why?…It was like stumbling on a little secret, and we had no choice then and there but to make awesome, nice-to-look-at nails.” I think this belief is contradicted by even a cursory glance at the history of medieval nails. The current conventional round heads are presumably a result of the manufacturing process. But they also offer the maximum target area for their circumference, which is pretty useful.
In times of economic hardship, where there are plenty of good reasons to create beautiful useful and affordable designs, there are plenty of new things coming out which seem surprisingly out of step with our lives. The nails and the Evian innovation both say something about our times – I am not precisely sure what, but I don’t think it’s too flattering.